(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives, The Herald and Erie Times-News)
WEEK FOUR FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Eleven of the area's 12 teams will be in region action this Friday night as the District 10 schedule returns to normalcy after a cavalcade of non-league games in Week Three. Week Four features a seven-game slate that has five all-Mercer County area matchups. Additionally, Hickory hosts Conneaut, a team that has frequently played local teams over the last decade.
Region 1 (Class 1A) play begins with all four teams in action. The Farrell-West Middlesex clash pits two 3-0 teams. Meanwhile, Reynolds and Mercer both sport 2-1 marks.
Farrell at West Middlesex, 7:00 p.m.
Two state-ranked teams meet Friday night in West Middlesex as the Big Reds host Farrell in the Region 1 opener. West Middlesex has moved into the No. 9 spot in the Harrisburg Patriot-News Class 1A rankings while Farrell remains atop the poll.
Both teams improved to 3-0 last week by earning road wins over Class 1A opponents in the northern part of District 10. Farrell rolled to a 70-6 win at Union City while West Middlesex pulled out a 41-27 triumph at Maplewood. Each team had a senior standout score five touchdowns in his respective game and both squads posted balanced offensive statistics.
For Farrell, senior wide receiver Jourdan Townsend caught five touchdown passes and finished the game with 117 receiving yards on five receptions. Farrell amassed 263 rushing yards and added 246 passing yards. Quarterback Kyi Wright completed 8 of 12 passes for 204 yards while tailback Christian Lewis ran for 156 yards and two scores on a dozen carries.
Defensively, Farrell took a shutout into the fourth quarter. The Steelers forced a season-high six turnovers at Union City. Farrell leads Mercer County in takeaways (10) and turnover margin (plus-9) this season.
Wright leads the county in pass efficiency rating (257.5) while Townsend shares the area lead with 17 catches and 56 points. Lewis ranks second with 411 rushing yards. Wright's 520 total
While Townsend scored all five of his touchdowns through the air, West Middlesex senior fullback Clayton Parrish ran for five touchdowns, including three in the fourth quarter, of the Big Reds' win at Maplewood. Parrish finished with 187 rushing yards on 25 carries and also caught a 42-yard pass from Jake Bowen.
Like Farrell's Wright, Bowen also had a prolific evening as he finished with 157 passing yards and 107 rushing yards. West Middlesex finished with 461 total offensive yards and 22 first downs. West Middlesex did not punt or commit a turnover.
Parrish leads the area with 446 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. His 56 total points are tied with Townsend for the county lead. Parrish leads the county with 488 yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving combined). Bowen is sixth in the county with 432 total offensive yards.
West Middlesex has won six of the last 10 meetings but Farrell is on a three-game win streak against the Big Reds. Farrell won two meetings last year. The teams also met in Week Four last season with Farrell rolling to a 58-0 home win. Lewis ran for 190 yards and three touchdowns while Townsend had five catches for 90 yards and a score.
In the District 10 Class 1A semifinals November 2 at Wilmington, Farrell secured a 46-12 win. Townsend had six catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score. Lewis ran for 90 yards while fullback Tymir Green had 61 rushing yards and a score. Parrish ran for 155 yards and a touchdown to help lead West Middlesex.
Farrell's current win streak against West Middlesex began in the 2016 District 10 Class 1A title game, a 22-12 victory.
The game can be heard on 790 WPIC.
Reynolds at Mercer, 7:00 p.m.
Two teams that have spent plenty of time on buses over the first three weeks will meet in the Region 1 opener Friday night in the county seat. It is Mercer's home opener while Reynolds will play its fourth consecutive road game. Each team comes in at 2-1 overall.
Both Reynolds and Mercer earned road wins over Class 1A foes in Weeks One and Three. Reynolds earned a 44-28 win at Union City in the opener, then picked up a 40-7 victory at Saegertown last week. Meanwhile, Mercer decisioned Cochranton in the opener, 21-6, then pulled out a 19-13 victory at Eisenhower in Week Three.
Additionally, each team fell on the road in Week Two against schools in larger classifications. Reynolds fell at 3A Slippery Rock, 24-6, while Mercer dropped a 10-7 verdict at 2A Northwestern that same night.
Defensively, both teams rank among the area's best statistically. Reynolds is third locally, holding opponents to 184.7 yards per game. The Raiders are one spot ahead of Mercer, which yields 197.3 yards per game. The Mustangs have allowed opponents to execute only 116 offensive plays, the second-lowest total in the area. Mercer is also tied for second in scoring defense, allowing 9.7 points per game.
There are plenty of contrasts between the teams too, however. Reynolds features Mercer County's top rushing attack as the Raiders average 335.0 yards per game. Meanwhile, Mercer limits opponents to only 92.7 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry. Mercer is the only local team to not allow a rushing touchdown this season. In pass defense, Mercer leads the county with five interceptions.
The fifth interception came in the closing moments of last week's win at Eisenhower as senior defensive back Brian Shevitz clinched the victory by picking off Ike quarterback Owen Trumbull. Mercer took a 19-13 lead in the fourth quarter on Dylan Hetrick's six-yard touchdown pass to Aiden Bright. Shevitz scored on a seven-yard run earlier in the quarter to tie the game at 13.
Shevitz ran for 112 yards on 19 attempts while fellow halfback Bright added 71 yards on 11 carries. Fullback Andrew Weinel scored Mercer's first touchdown and finished with 27 yards. Hetrick went 7 of 9 for 68 yards, with Bright catching four total passes.
A three-year starter at quarterback, Hetrick has efficiently led Mercer's Wing-T attack. He has completed 71 percent of his passes this year and has 192 passing yards. Shevitz leads Mercer with 195 rushing yards and Bright has 190 yards.
Mercer has outscored opponents 19-0 in the fourth quarter this year.
While Mercer has finished strong, fast starts have fueled Reynolds in 2018. The Raiders are outscoring opponents 33-6 in the first quarter this year. At Saegertown last Friday, Reynolds bolted to a 13-0 lead early, then led 33-0 by halftime.
Sophomore halfback Jordan DeCarmen ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns while junior quarterback Sean O'Hara added 101 yards. Overall, Reynolds piled up 364 rushing yards.
DeCarmen leads Reynolds with 337 rushing yards. The Raiders are the only local team with three backs over 200 yards this year. O'Hara is second on the team with 258 yards and senior Tyrese Baker has added 219 yards. As a team, Reynolds averages 7.6 yards per carry.
Both teams competed in Class 2A the last two seasons before dropping down this year. Reynolds won last year's meeting, 54-0, in Transfer as the Raiders amassed 373 rushing yards. Reynolds has won four straight in the series. Mercer's last win over Reynolds came in 2013, 32-28.
The game will be heard on Sports Radio 96.7. Live stats available here.
Sharon at Slippery Rock, 7:00 p.m.
Friday night, Sharon and Slippery Rock will meet for the 30th time in a series that dates back to 1988. It's also a District 10 playoff rematch as undefeated Slippery Rock (3-0, 0-0) aims to knock Sharon (2-1, 1-0) out of first place in Region 5.
Each squad earned a one-sided road win last week in non-conference play. Sharon rolled past Fairview, 63-12, while Slippery Rock drilled Franklin, 52-12.
Sharon quarterback Lane Voytik threw for a season-high 257 yards on 21-of-28 accuracy at Fairview while senior tailback Jordan Wilson gained a season-best 172 yards and three touchdowns. Junior wide receiver C.J. Parchman hauled in eight Voytik passes for 131 yards and a touchdown while Brady Ortiz, Frank Shaffer and Trey Jones also caught touchdowns.
Defensively, Sharon held Fairview to only 155 yards of offense and six first downs. The Tiger defense also allowed only six points.
Voytik leads the county in total offensive yards, with 635. Wilson's 368 rushing yards rank fourth while Parchman leads the county with 344 receiving yards. He also leads the county in yards per reception (20.2) and shares the area lead with 17 catches.
Last Friday at Class 5A Franklin, Slippery Rock's defense held Franklin to three first downs and minus-13 rushing yards. Slippery Rock's power spread offense chewed up 350 rushing yards on 62 carries in the victory. Senior Kaleb Kamerer ran for 167 yards and four touchdowns while junior quarterback Vito Pilosi gained 68 yards and a touchdown. Emerging David Duffalo contributed 65 yards on the ground.
Kamerer now ranks fifth in the county in rushing yards (352) and yards per carry (9.3). No local team has executed more rushing plays this season than Slippery Rock (136).
Slippery Rock is second in the area in turnover margin at plus-5. Meanwhile, Sharon is 12th at minus-4. The Tigers have committed a county-high nine turnovers this season. Sharon downed Hickory in the only Region 5 game to have been played so far, 27-24, in Week Two.
Sharon leads the all-time series 23-6. Sharon head coach Jim Wildman is 18-1 against Slippery Rock, with the lone loss coming at Slippery Rock in 2014, 28-13. Sharon won the first 15 meetings from 1988 to 2002. However, Slippery Rock defeated Sharon in the District 10 title game in 2002, 17-7. In 2008, Sharon defeated Slippery Rock in the regular season, 17-10, but dropped a 27-10 decision to Slippery Rock in the D-10 semifinals.
Last year, Sharon earned a 24-7 win in the regular season at Slippery Rock. Sharon forced five turnovers in the victory. The Tigers put away the win with 10 fourth quarter points. Sharon then downed Slippery Rock in the D-10 Class 3A semifinals, 26-10, outscoring the Rockets 20-7 in the second half. Voytik completed 15 of 20 passes for 220 yards while Wilson ran for 70 yards and a score.
Greenville at Sharpsville, 7:00 p.m.
One of the area's oldest series will be renewed when Greenville visits Sharpsville in both teams' Region 4 opener. This game is also a playoff rematch as Greenville downed Sharpsville in the District 10 Class 2A semifinals last year, 28-14.
Greenville earned its first victory of the season last Friday night by rolling past visiting Iroquois, 43-14, at Stewart Field. Meanwhile, Sharpsville dropped to 2-1 Saturday night with a 52-21 loss to Akron (Ohio) Manchester.
Greenville's power running game kicked into gear against Iroquois as the Trojans finished with 366 rushing yards. Senior Brady Gentile led the way with 123 yards and two scores on 10 carries while Isaac Sasala (99) and Levi Swartz (93) both posted career highs in rushing yardage. Quarterback Jon King completed 5 of 7 passes for 81 yards, with Gentile catching four balls for 78 yards.
Sharpsville originally planned to play Seneca in Week Three, but the Bobcats planned to forfeit due to a roster crunch. However, Sharpsville connected with Akron Manchester, which also had an open date in Week Three. Manchester, a perennial small-school powerhouse in northeast Ohio, ran for 366 yards in a 52-21 win at McCracken Field. Sharpsville also yielded a punt return for touchdown and threw an interception that turned directly into a touchdown.
Fullback Kobe Joseph led Sharpsville with 81 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Joe Bornes hauled in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Nick Alexander, who threw for 133 yards on 10-for-24 passing. Luke Levis caught five passes for 60 yards.
Sharpsville leads the area in passing offense, averaging 218.7 yards per game. Alexander leads the county with 628 passing yards while his six touchdown passes are third. Levis ranks fourth locally in receptions (13) and receiving yards (248).
Sharpsville also leads the area in fewest passing yards allowed with 121. The Blue Devils' pass defense efficiency rating of 45.7 also leads the county.
Greenville scored 22 fourth quarter points in last year's playoff win over Sharpsville. Gentile ran for 114 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. He also had four catches for 45 yards. Alexander completed 7 of 8 attempts for 138 yards and a touchdown for Sharpsville.
In the regular season meeting last year, Sharpsville scored all 21 points in the second half of a 21-0 win over visiting Greenville. The Blue Devils forced five turnovers and limited Greenville to six first downs.
According to Bob Greenburg, Sharpsville leads the all-time series 40-32. The teams first met in 1910. Sharpsville has won three straight regular season meetings. Sharpsville and Greenville competed against each other in the Northwest Conference from 1971 to 1981. Sharpsville began play in the Mercer County-centric Keystone Football League in 1982 while Greenville remained in the Northwest Conference through the 2001 season. The 2016 season marked the teams' reunion as league foes.
Lakeview at Wilmington, 7:00 p.m.
Wilmington hosts Lakeview in the Region 4 opener for both teams Friday night. Wilmington carries a 10-game home win streak into the game while Lakeview aims to snap its 21-game skid.
Wilmington opened its home schedule last Friday with a 66-19 victory over previously unbeaten Northwestern. Seven different men scored rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Robert Pontius ran for three scores and finished with a team-high 69 rushing yards. Ten different ball-carriers accumulated 372 rushing yards while Pontius also threw for 187 yards.
The "Hounds Hammer" defense returned to regular form by holding Northwestern to minus-14 rushing yards and five first downs.
Wilmington now ranks second locally in rushing offense, averaging 314.3 yards per game. Defensively, Wilmington is No. 1 against the run locally, limiting opponents to 63.0 yards per game and 2.2 yards per carry. Wilmington has outscored opponents 46-0 in the first quarter this year.
Lakeview fell to 0-3 last week with a 69-0 home loss to Conneaut (Ohio). Domanic Leonard led Lakeview with 31 rushing yards on four attempts.
Wilmington is 4-0 against Lakeview since the teams' series resumed in 2014, including a 74-0 win last year. According to available records, Wilmington is 12-1 all-time against Lakeview. The teams first met in 1966, Lakeview's first year of varsity football. Wilmington earned a 37-7 win. Lakeview's lone win came in 1969, 25-6.
Prior to 2014, the teams last met September 13, 1975, when Wilmington earned a 40-12 win at Lakeview. In 1974, Wilmington entered its October 19 game against Lakeview with a 1-2-3 record. Wilmington won that game 27-6. Lakeview has never won a league game on artificial turf. The longest losing streak in Mercer County football is believed to be 28 games, set by West Middlesex from 1991 to 1994. Lakeview dropped 26 straight games from 1973 to 1976.
Conneaut at Hickory, 7:00 p.m.
Hickory returns to Region 4 play Friday night by hosting Conneaut in the first-ever meeting between the perennial playoff programs. Hickory aims for its first win of the season after an 0-3 start. Meanwhile, Conneaut has won two straight after falling to undefeated Oil City in the opener.
Hickory dropped a 28-7 decision last Friday night at 3-0 Mercyhurst Prep in a rematch of the 2017 District 10 semifinals. Hickory forged a 7-7 tie on Michael Henwood's 88-yard kickoff return for touchdown in the first quarter. However, Mercyhurst held Hickory to 99 yards of total offense. Quarterback Hayden Gallagher threw for 69 yards on 4-of-12 accuracy.
This season, Hickory has executed 154 offensive plays and Gallagher has been involved in a county-high 120 of them as a runner or passer.
The Hickory defense will be tested by Conneaut's potent offensive attack. Senior quarterback Kyle Sheets has thrown for 233 yards and rushed for 427 yards this year. He ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-6 thrashing of archrival Meadville in Week Two. That followed a 146-yard, three-touchdown game against Oil City. Last week, he ran for 115 yards in a 60-25 win at North East.
Senior running back Peyton Hearn ran for 268 yards and five touchdowns in the win at North East. His 560 rushing yards this season rank third in District 10.
Hickory is 0-3 for the first time since 2007. The Hornets have not been winless through four games since 1993, when they started out 0-3-1. All-time, Conneaut is 3-6 in Mercer County.
Brashear at Grove City, 7:00 p.m.
Undefeated Grove City has the bye this week in Region 4 and will host Pittsburgh City League member Brashear at Forker Field.
Grove City improved to 3-0 last week with a 48-0 victory at Corry. The Eagles forced five turnovers and held Corry to 95 yards of offense. Offensively, senior wide receiver Logan Lutz caught six passes for 106 yards in the win. He also returned an interception for a touchdown. Quarterback Brady Callahan threw for 174 yards on 12-of-15 passing while running backs Colby Nelson (97 yards) and Tyler Greer (84) both ran for two touchdowns each.
Grove City leads the county in scoring offense (52.0) and scoring defense (4.3). The Eagles also lead the area by averaging 461.0 yards per game this season.
Greer ranks third in the county with 381 rushing yards while Nelson is ninth at 284 yards. Lutz shares the county lead with 17 receptions while Callahan tops the county in completion percentage (77.3). His 536 passing yards are No. 3 locally.
Brashear is 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the City League. The Bulls earned a 56-0 win over Carrick last Thursday at Cupples Stadium. Under the guidance of first-year head coach Don Schmidt, Brashear features a pair of standout senior running backs in Armar Bruce and Anthony Carrington. Senior quarterback Keshawn Towsond is also back for the Bulls, who went 5-5 last year.
The Bulls opened the season with a 26-8 loss at Beaver. In Week Two, Brashear dropped a 14-11 decision to City League rival Perry. Brashear has lost in the City League championship game in each of the last two seasons. Brashear is a Class 5A school and is the 12th-largest 5A school in Pennsylvania.
This is Grove City's first regular season game against a non-District 10 school since defeating District 7 member Northgate, 42-28, in the 2014 finale. Grove City did play D-9 member DuBois in 2015 and 2016, but DuBois plays in District 10 regions for scheduling purposes. Grove City last played a Pittsburgh City League team August 30, 2013, when the Eagles picked up a 34-12 win over Carrick.
Grove City last lost a regular season game to a school from Allegheny County on August 29, 1997, when Pine-Richland earned a 14-0 win at Forker Field. That game marked the return of former Grove City coach Clair Altemus, who had taken over as Pine-Richland head coach after the 1996 season.
The game can be heard on Oldies Z-104 (WWIZ 103.9).